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SPOTLIGHT on Anneleigh Jacobsen

Most people don’t realise what physical hard work and mental perseverance it takes to learn Flamenco.

Most students walk in with the aspiration to dance, but aspirations are easy to have … it’s a bit like dream hunting and easily borderlines on false mental promises to reach some magical new height.

For aspirations to become a reality one must be willing to make a change, and change is rarely easy and it takes hard work.

So when Anneleigh never flinched during those first classes, I already knew she fit the profile of many women in our studio: strong willed and in many cases entrepreneurs.

What makes Anneleigh’s story double interesting is that she had already reached the highest aspiration in a corporate marketing career and had just received an offer to move to another major competing company, but she suddenly realised she was not happy and things had to change … packed her bags, moved to Cape Town without any financial security and reformulated her aspirations.

From the key moment in the carpark in Johannesburg, when you realised you had to make a change, how long did it take to move to Cape Town, resettle and open your own business?

It was quicker than I probably would have liked! I turned down the offer I had received (and pretty much already committed to) the next day and then realised that since I had already resigned my previous position, I now had no job! Obviously I knew this theoretically, but it was still a shock, somehow. I then went into action mode and called and emailed everyone i know and said "Hi, I need some work, know anyone would could use some marketing advice?" and through that process a business school Dean connected me to the person who would become my first client - a client I still have ten years later and who I love! All this happened in April 2009 and on 1st May 2009 I was visiting a friend in Cape Town when I met Greg, the amazing man I am now married to. That first client was also based in Ceres in the Western Cape, so between the client and the future-husband it was a pretty easy decision and I moved to CT on the 3rd of November that year. So all in all from the parking lot to CT was about 8 months.

The marketing world seems to thrive on nauseating buzzwords and trends ad infinitum, how do you set yourself apart and still be successful?

Ah, the jargon! When I joined Proctor & Gamble straight from Business School I got an induction file and the last section was a fat wad of pages that was literally a full listing of all the jargon and acronyms that they use! And even then I was totally lost in the first meeting I sat through - they might as well have been speaking Cantonese! Jargon happens in every industry, but the "democratisation" (to use some jargon, lol!) of media has meant that the jargon of media, brands, marketing, design, PR, advertising and all the allied fields has become a lot more ubiquitous and that in itself has, I think, exacerbated the "buzz word" drive. The faster a word or phrase becomes a buzzword or jargon, the faster it also becomes old news, as it were and so is then replaced by the next cool thing (cool is no longer cool, as it were, but you know what I mean!) in order to seem edgy, new and different to the norm, and therefore worth spending money on - whether it's a self-help book or a YouTube channel or a product.

While I understand the drive to create buzzwords, my approach to brands and marketing is much more about taking the time to stop and really think through what you do how you explain that, and then how to implement that knowledge into a successful brand, marketing campaign and business. Sounds strange, but many very successful brands and companies actually can't articulate what they do and what sets them apart enough to be successful! So I'm quite old school really - think first, then do - not highly driven by buzzwords or the latest shiny thing in the world of marketing and I think that sets me apart. I seem to keep clients and I only ever get work through word of mouth and referral, so I guess my clients must find value in that approach too!

You are still working in the marketing field for corporate clients, what do you do different to avoid corporate stress?

I come to Flamenco to stamp my feet! And I always feel so much better after class than before, it is magical.

Why Flamenco?

I have always loved dance - I did ballet until my Matric year and since then I've tried everything from hiphop to contemporary, and from pole dance to ballroom! I find dance is mentally and physically engaging and it helps me give my mind a break from the hamster-wheel inside! I had been looking for a new dance "home" for a little while when I came across SoloFlamenco and just loved the attitude and 'houding' of the flamenco and decided to see if I could manage it, and have loved every second since.

I also love to learn new things in general because it's a great reminder as to how lost new clients can feel when I start explaining the world of marketing to them. Always good to remember what it feels like to be a novice!

What was the biggest challenge / fun factor for you doing your first flamenco performance?

I had a total stress out - I'm not a "centre-stage" type of person at all, I much prefer to be in the wings so I really had to talk myself into it all. I totally messed up on the first night, but then I guess I had gotten the panic out of my system and I really loved the second night - the camaraderie, joy and wonderful spirit of the SoloFlamenco family is very special and I really enjoyed that aspect of it. And as with every organisation, the culture comes from the top - it's a great testament to you, TanYa, and your company that SoloFlamenco has the wonderful attitude, spirit and community that it does!

Tell us more about Jerry the cat? … and does he offer you inspiration or is he a time-waster or just an ornamental poser?

Jerry the Beautiful, Jerry-bean, Mr Bean or Jeremiah (as my mom calls him - she feels Jerry is not grand enough to live up to his pretty face!) adopted us just over a year ago, and has filled the huge hole in my heart that was left when our Fox Terrier, Phoebe, died in September 2017. Jerry is such a personality! He definitely poses and likes to supervise work, but he is also very affectionate and sweet. He is the first cat I've ever met who loves plants - he goes into the garden everyday to check in on "his" plants, and will rub and love any and all plants and flowers in the house. As you can tell from my Instagram he is extremely cute and photogenic, and I love to take pictures of him. I find him quite therapeutic, actually - his antics and cuteness distract me enough from work to help me remember to take a break sometimes and to enjoy little things everyday, always a good lesson I think.

What would you like to be in your next life?

Jerry! :)

You love exploring Cape Town’s unique venues, tell us which is your favourite spot thus far, and why you like it so much?

There are so many wonderful places, we are genuinely spoilt in this city!

I have a couple of favourites depending what you're looking for:

Chef's Warehouse & Canteen on Bree Street: I think Liam Tomlin is a food genius and he and his wife Jan have created an incredible collection of places that offer some of the best food I've eaten in the world at incredible value. The Bree street branch is the original (relocated) and I still love it the most - no bookings, a fixed menu that changes every day based on what fresh ingredients are available and beautiful, and a casual but beautiful space. Top choice for a date night or celebration anytime!

The Mount Nelson Tea Room: The best high tea in the city! And I am a total tea snob having learnt about tea from a Sri Lankan tea master while working on Five Roses many years ago. The Nelly is a beautiful oasis in the city and they serve Nigiro teas (imported by a wonderful Taiwanese tea family) properly with timers and excellent service, all combined with their crazy pastries and perfect cucumber sandwiches. I recommend the morning tea generally - it's less crowded and they bring you the classic 3-tiered trays of goodies to your table - a total delight.

The Rootop Bar at the Silo Hotel: Simply the best view in Cape Town and that is saying something in this city. You have to book in advance for the Rooftop, but it is well worth it for sundowners and a 360 degree view of the city, the mountain, and the harbour. If the weather is bad you can opt for the Williston bar on the 4th floor, also a stunning view and the gorgeous windows and Thomas Heatherwick architecture are well worth seeing. Another favourite bar is the Leopard Lounge at the 12 Apostles Hotel - perfect balcony for a drink with a view. And it's where I met Greg, so it's one of our favourite spots!



Instagram: @roguemarketer

Jerry the cat likes Flamenco shoes


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